The Men Who Planned the War: A Study of the Staff of the British Army on the Western Front, 1914-1918, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Men Who Planned the War

A Study of the Staff of the British Army on the Western Front, 1914-1918, 1st Edition

By Paul Harris


284 pages

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Paperback: 9781138307193
pub: 2017-06-16
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Hardback: 9781472457837
pub: 2015-12-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315545769
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During the Allied victory celebrations there were few who chose to raise a glass to the staff. The high cost of casualties endured by the British army tarnished the reputation of the military planners, which has yet to recover. This book examines the work and development of the staff of the British army during the First World War and its critical role in the military leadership team. Their effectiveness was germane to the outcome of events in the front line but not enough consideration has been paid to this level of command and control, which has largely been overshadowed by the debate over generalship. This has painted an incomplete picture of the command function. Characterised as arrogant, remote and out of touch with the realities of the front line, the staff have been held responsible for the mismanagement of the war effort and profligate loss of lives in futile offensives. This book takes a different view. By using their letters and diaries it reveals fresh insights into their experience of the war. It shows that the staff made frequent visits to the front line and were no strangers to combat or hostile fire. Their work is also compared with their counterparts in the French and German armies, highlighting differences in practice and approach. In so doing, this study throws new light upon the characteristics, careers and working lives of these officers, investigating the ways in which they both embraced and resisted change. This offers evidence both for those who wish to exonerate the British command system on the basis of the learning process but also for those critical of its performance, thus advancing understanding of British military history in the First World War.

Table of Contents

Introduction: the missing element; Origins, training and duties; The staff go to war; The life of the staff; Wartime learning and experience; The changing staff; Teams and careers; Conclusion: setting the record straight; Biographical notes; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr Paul Harris works as a lecturer and writer. He completed a PhD on the staff of the British army at the Department of War Studies, King's College London in 2013. Prior to that he gained an MA in First World War studies at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include the work of the staff, military planning and strategy, and the career of Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Lawrence, He is a member of the British Commission for Military History and serves on the committee of the Douglas Haig Fellowship.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in First World War History

The First World War is a subject of perennial interest to historians and is often regarded as a watershed event, marking the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the 'modern' industrial world. The sheer scale of the conflict and massive loss of life means that it is constantly being assessed and reassessed to examine its lasting military, political, sociological, industrial, cultural and economic impact. Reflecting the latest international scholarly research, the Routledge Studies in First World War History series provides a unique platform for the publication of monographs on all aspects of the Great War. Whilst the main thrust of the series is on the military aspects of the conflict, other related areas (including cultural, visual, literary, political and social) are also addressed. Books published are aimed primarily at a post-graduate academic audience, furthering exciting recent interpretations of the war, whilst still being accessible enough to appeal to a wider audience of educated lay readers.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century